Sign Language Alphabet | 6 Free Downloads to Learn It Fast

October 1, 2010
Category: ASL Dictionary

Memorizing the American Sign Language alphabet (also known as the American Manual Alphabet) is the first step when learning American Sign Language and most new sign language students rely on fingerspelling from the ASL alphabet when they don’t know the sign for something.

Grammatically, fingerspelling is used in ASL for signing proper nouns (people’s names, brand names, book and movie titles, and city and state names). So, it is recommended that sign language students don’t fingerspell a word they don’t know. Instead, we suggest trying to use signs you do know to describe the word or use gestures. If all else fails, though, go ahead and fingerspell it.

Have fun, and remember: you can’t sign ASL when you only know the alphabet! American Sign Language has it’s own vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, so be sure to check out our Complete 3-Level ASL Course where you can learn how to sign accurately in American Sign Language.

The first step is to learn the ASL alphabet. Thankfully, with our free resources below, you’ll be fingerspelling in no time!

6 Free Resources to Learn the American Sign Language Alphabet

1. Watch our Video of the American Sign Language Alphabet

2. Download Our Free High Quality ASL Alphabet Image

Click the image below to be taken to our high quality image of the alphabet in sign language.

American Sign Language Alphabet

 

Let me explain some of the letters of this alphabet:

You will notice two black arrows in this image–one for the letter J and one for the letter Z. For the letter J, you will make the handshape for the letter I, then trace a J in the air (the way you would see it). For the letter Z, you will make a number 1 handshape and trace the letter Z into the air (the way you would see it).

For the letters that are hard to see:

C has a handshape that forms the letter C with your hand. I don’t like to turn my C’s so that the side of my hand is facing the person I am talking to when I sign them. That can be hard on the wrist after a while.

The letter F can be signed with the three fingers apart (like they are in the image) or together. I prefer apart because it’s not too forceful on your hands.

Letters M, N, and T are very similar. For M your thumb is under your first three fingers, for N your thumb is under your first two fingers, and for T your thumb is under only your first finger.

P has the same handshape as the letter K, just with your middle finger pointing to the floor.

Q has a similar handshape to the letter G (with your thumb and pointer finger pointed straight) but with your thumb and pointer finger pointing to the floor.

3. Download Our Free Sign Language Alphabet PDF

Below is a high quality printable sign language alphabet image and PDF.

 

Printable Sign Language Alphabet

(Keep in mind that you will need Adobe Reader in order to view the PDF. You can get it free here.)

The American Sign Language alphabet is so important when learning ASL, so be sure to download this printable sign language alphabet chart to take around with you.

You can take it to the coffee shop and practice fingerspelling the different coffees on the menu…

You can take it with you to the grocery store and practice fingerspelling what’s on your shopping list…

But, most importantly, you should practice fingerspelling your name.

One way to practice is to work on memorizing the letters. When you think you’ve got the hang of most of them, try fingerspelling the whole alphabet by memory. If you get stuck, just take a quick glance at the letter on your chart that you cannot remember and keep going from memory. Do this as much as you can and you will have them all memorized in no time!

4. Download Our Free Printable American Sign Language Alphabet Flashcards

 

Printable Sign Language Flashcards

(Keep in mind that you will need Adobe Reader in order to view the PDF. You can get it free here.)

Here are over 200 printable ASL alphabet practice flash cards! These are a great way to practice your fingerspelling receptive memory.

To print the flash cards: In Adobe Reader, go to File > Print and select 2-Sided Printing > Flip on Short Side. If your printer does not have 2-sided printing, you will need to print out all the pages and attach each set back-to-back before cutting.

5. Download Our Free Printable Sign Language Alphabet Coloring Pages

Coloring can be a fun, calming activity for both children and adults! Use our free printable sign language alphabet coloring pages to help retain the letters you are learning. And if you color with your kids – they can learn too!

Printable Sign Language For Kids

(Keep in mind that you will need Adobe Reader in order to view the PDF. You can get it free here.)

This PDF file includes one coloring page for each of the sign language letters and a picture and word for each. This is a great way to help kids learn the ASL alphabet and is a fun activity for your ASL sessions. You can even hand out one letter to each student in your class to color and hang them up on the wall for reference!

Here is a list of all the sign language letters we included and the words we associated with them:

  • A – Alligator
  • B – Bird
  • C – Camel
  • D – Dog
  • E – Elephant
  • F – Fish
  • G – Giraffe
  • H – Hippo
  • I – Inner Tube
  • J – Jellyfish
  • K – Kite
  • L – Lion
  • M – Monkeys
  • N – Noon
  • O – Owl
  • P – Penguin
  • Q – “Quack”
  • R – Rain
  • S – Snake
  • T – Toucan
  • U – Umbrella
  • V – Vulture
  • W – Wind
  • X – Xylophone
  • Y – Yacht
  • Z – Zebra

If you’re interested in teaching your baby how to sign, don’t forget to check out our free Baby Sign Language lessons. Teaching baby sign language to your baby can be a big stress reliever during those early months of your beautiful baby’s life.

6. Download Our Free American Sign Language Alphabet Wallpapers

We have ASL alphabet wallpapers for computers, tablets, and smartphones! Click each image below to open our high quality wallpapers. If you right click the images below, you will download a compressed version of the images, so be sure to click the image you’d like to use first before downloading.

Sign Language Alphabets From Different Countries

If you’d like to learn even more, here are the sign language alphabets from different countries!

Just like sign language, the sign language alphabet varies from country to country and it can be really fun to see how they differ from each other.

The manual alphabet used in Australia is much different from the manual alphabet used in the United States. This means that if you use the ASL alphabet in Australia, they will think you are weird.

We are honestly completely fascinated by the manual alphabets from around the world. They vary greatly. The alphabet used in Australia, Britain, and New Zealand is the same and uses two hands instead of one. We highly recommend learning this alphabet simply for the fun factor.

Some alphabets even use handshapes that are quite difficult to make if you know American Sign Language.

We think learning these different manual alphabets is very useful. When you go to another country, just look for a deaf person, and you can spell out what you are looking for! Just kidding… their alphabet is normally in their native language. So, to fingerspell in Japanese Sign Language, you will need to know Japanese.

Here are some links to the alphabets from different countries:

Have fun! And remember: you can’t sign ASL when you only know the alphabet! American Sign Language has it’s own vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, so be sure to check out our Complete 3-Level ASL Course where you can learn how to sign accurately in American Sign Language.

What is Your Favorite Way to Practice?

Do you like to practice fingerspelling the animals at the zoo? The colors you see while driving? Share your fingerspelling practice ideas in the comments below!

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